Interstellar Highway System

  • Published on: 03 April 2019
  • Could advanced civilizations be using a network of black holes for interstellar travel? In our last video, the "halo drive" was discussed covering the basic physics of how this new system could potentially enable interstellar flight. Here, we go much deeper on the halo drive concept, answering many of the questions which have been raised, and going further by considering the possibilities of a galactic wide network of such systems.

    This video is based on research conducted at the Cool Worlds Lab at Columbia University. You can now support our research program directly here:

    0:08 Introduction
    4:39 The Halo Drive
    7:14 Non-Binary Halo Drive
    13:41 Leaving the Black Hole
    18:40 Deceleration
    21:15 A Halo Network
    26:29 Civilizations around Black Holes

    Academic articles used:
    ► Kipping, David (2018), "The Halo Drive: Fuel Free Relativistic Propulsion of Large Mases via Recycled Boomerang Photons", JBIS, In Press:
    ► Kipping, David (2017), "Relativistic Light Sails", AJ, 153, 277:
    ► Dyson, Freeman (1963), "Gravitational Machines", in A.G.W. Cameron, ed., Interstellar Communication, New York Benjamin Press:
    ► Breakthrough Starshot homepage:
    ► Cool Worlds video giving some background on Breakthrough Starshot:
    ► Cool Worlds video on relativistic moving mirrors:
    ► Cool Worlds video on mirror distortion effects:
    ► Semyonov, Oleg (2006), "Radiation Hazard of Relativistic Interstellar Flight":
    ► Hoang et al. (2017), "The interaction of relativistic spacecrafts with the interstellar medium", ApJ, 837, 16:
    ► Heger, et al. (2003), "How massive single stars end their life", ApJ, 591, 288:

    Video materials used:
    ► Nuclear bomb footage:
    ► Shuttle footage:,,
    ► Astronaut footage, NASA (ISS):
    ► Simulation of binary black hole with disk by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:
    ► Breakthrough Starshot footage from the Breakthrough Initiatives:
    ► "Science Asylum" for rotating black hole depiction and merry-go-round video: and
    ► Whirlpool video by "whirlpoolhitman":
    ► Simulation of Gravity Probe B, video hosted by "relgyro":
    ► Falling towards a black hole simulation produced for the "Einstein Inside" exhibition touring Germany, where it was shown at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, video hosted by "Ziri Younsi":
    ► LISA simulation by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center:

    Special thanks to YouTuber Madd End for this fantastic artist's impression of the halo drive:

    Filmclips, in order of appearance;
    ► Terminator 3
    ► The Black Hole
    ► Interstellar
    ► Star Trek, The Next Generation

    Music is by Chris Zabriskie ( and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (, in order of appearance;

    ► Music from Neptune Flux, "We Were Never Meant to Live Here" (
    ► Music from Neptune Flux, "Stories About the World That Once Was" (
    ► Cylinder Five (
    ► Cylinder Four (
    ► Cylinder Eight (
    ► The Sun is Scheduled to Come Out Tomorrow (
    In addition, music from OneGuitarOrchestra, acoustic cover of Hans Zimmer's "No Time For Caution":
    ► Music from Neptune Flux, "We Were Never Meant to Live Here" (
    ► Music from Neptune Flux, "That Hopeful Future Is All I've Ever Known" (

    And also:
    ► Columbia University Department of Astronomy:
    ► Cool Worlds Lab website:

    ::Playlists For Channel::

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  • Runtime : 30:53
  • interstellar highway intragalactic interstellar highway system near light speed interstellar ships interstellar network halo drive halo network traveling across the galaxy galactic space travel starship technology black hole spaceship black hole machine advanced civilizations technology alien civilizations technology new technology space new space technology futuristic space technology astrophysics research traveling between the stars david kipping


  • Maddendd the Owl
    Maddendd the Owl   2 years ago

    To stabilise the spacecraft, couldn't you just force it into a constant freefall into the black hole, that you counterbalance with the Halo Drive? Using something like an anchor on a long string that is much closer to the black hole.

  • NWN
    NWN   1 days ago

    I honestly think you’re breaking academic ground here in a way that many others will replicate in the future. Your channel gives you the opportunity to attract public interest for your research work. I’ve seen public outreach work punished so much generally, but yours is so much around your own published research so it’s unarguable to your peers that you’re putting in the expected effort to do research and get published. And you present it in an engaging way that I know that many conventional academics would struggle with.I look forward to see where this channel goes and what academia is like in another 10 or 15 years. Not every field will translate as well to YouTube videos as cosmology and astrophysics, but I can imagine steps in this direction at least.

  • Colette
    Colette   1 days ago

    Could we do this with a neutron star binary as well, if we used a well-timed pulsed laser and had the beam loop around both neutron stars to get back to the ship? If not, there should be some number of neutron stars that we could use to achieve this.

  • David Dumon
    David Dumon   1 days ago

    Isn't here a chicken and egg problem here? You need the black hole for an interstellar speed boost, but first you need interstellar travel to get near enough to a black hole to fire you laser at?

  • Glyn Brookes
    Glyn Brookes   1 days ago

    If a ball of rock can steal energy then we will one day do the same and then again and again. We just need to find a way to live through what would take generations to master, nothing is impossible in the era of humanity

  • Nicolas Uribe
    Nicolas Uribe   1 days ago

    GREAT VIDEO! I WANNA TRAVEL NOW. By the way, 29:54 "Future ancestors" = "Descendants"

  • Lazy1Lou
    Lazy1Lou   2 days ago

    Aaah, i always thought that c was the total watervolume of all seas on the earth.... that explains much.

  • Peter Hall
    Peter Hall   2 days ago

    Would it work to a lesser degree with a neutron star?

  • Ryan Stewart
    Ryan Stewart   3 days ago

    This is less of a physics question and more of a logistics question, and maybe you already answered this in your previous video...but how do we get to the black holes in order to use the Halo Drive?

  • cracklingice
    cracklingice   4 days ago

    And also maintain massive amounts of energy to stop. Assuming we actually got started, we'd still have to stop.

  • Profound Damas
    Profound Damas   4 days ago

    Interesting if it isn't just a fantasy. And there are a lot of "scientific" fantasies.

  • Lucid Images
    Lucid Images   6 days ago

    I feel like anytime you start off with, "first you're gonna need a blackhole..." you might as well write it off and impossible or at least improbable haha. Love your channel mate! Just found it a couple weeks ago and have been getting through all the videos. Any chance you'll look at any research into the realm of reactionless drives or ion drives?

  • Johan Wester
    Johan Wester   1 weeks ago

    "Stealing" black hole energy with light propulsion systems (I guess you're calling it a halo drive) is possibly a way for us to go interstellar in a distant future. However I do not see why you would have to constrain yourself to 1g (you weigh what you weigh on earth) for a pleasant experience, as we have plenty of ways already to deal with positive and negative g-forces in racing, piloting and space traveling currently, albeit for brief moments. In formula one, correctly and safely strapped to the vessel, drivers crash at extreme G-forces over 50g and walks away like on a sunday stroll down the park. Combining G-force management with a plausible and effective propulsion system is in my eyes a "possible way to go". A constant high G would be horrible but a high G "initial kick" is not something to have too many concerns about, or do you mean that the G-force with the system would be constant? Then what G could we actually tolerate for a longer time? 2G on a normal body is possibly relatively like being very obese, so obviously not too harmful but not pleasant. Would like to see the experiment though where the beam actually comes back to the point you aim for after slinging around a black hole.Anyways fascinating scientific calculations and speculations, but anti gravity research is probably what we all would like to "crack" as weightless objects require less energy for any action and reaction to be more effective. Is it a figment of imagination or a key to negate all the gravitic forces of the universe? Who knows, it's obviously not "cracked yet", at least not in a sense of being released to the public or confirmed by science. I fully love the encouragement for everyone to think a little bit more on these things, however, not everybody is able to think about the concepts at all. WIth that said, I think it is cool to think about, dare to dream about what others fear or ridicule, too many times in history the bullies have been proven wrong!

  • Byron Flint
    Byron Flint   2 weeks ago

    One thing not being considered is in order to use a halo drive, one must get TO a black hole. The nearest one is as at least a hundred light years away. So in essence, you need another near speed of light drive in order to use a near speed of light drive. This renders any halo drive useless, and any effort into considering it mute.

  • blarvinius
    blarvinius   2 weeks ago

    Question: You say "a stationary black hole" and "Jupiter isn't moving fast enough"... But isn't everything in some orbit? Aren't all black holes moving (very fast) in some direction? So couldn't a halo drive benefit from a Doppler shift in the same direction of the trajectory of the lone black hole?

  • Totally YEETED
    Totally YEETED   2 weeks ago

    Put yourself unto orbit around it, and use radiation from the black hole as your energy source. Electromagnetic methods also possibly, similar to how wireless charging works

  • Dragoniiia
    Dragoniiia   3 weeks ago

    Alright. So the Mass Relays network can be real, just add black holes instead!Also I'm just so amazed by this concept, or generally by this channel.It's like... It's like what we think of Leonardo DaVinci and his inventions he couldn't create because of lack of good materials, but for our future!

  • Justin Harris
    Justin Harris   4 weeks ago

    I found this guys videos one day ago, and His explanations are unbelievable. I graduated high school with a 2.6 gpa but this guy makes this stuff so easy to understand......good job man.......good job

  • Josh Orton
    Josh Orton   1 months ago

    You could maybe, rather than build a civilization around a single black hole, find two spinning black holes to bounce back and forth between, presumably using a space station with a halo drive on each end. You'd have to switch all the furniture from floor to ceiling ever few years but it could be like a fun festival event

  • James Altol
    James Altol   1 months ago

    Wonderful video! Since this vid has already discussed the "distance" problems of interstellar scale, I'm curious about chronological problems of the same scale. If building an interstellar/intergalactic world is possible, is there any ways to keep a uniform pace of time across the entire worlds?(i.e. making an interstellar caldenar) My guess is general relativity will prevent making such thing. But...there might be an unknown solution I guess lol

  • Sacagawayway
    Sacagawayway   1 months ago

    I really appreciate you and your videos

  • Sailing Skeptic
    Sailing Skeptic   1 months ago

    hmm got to get to get to the black hole first? need to start at a black hole to get to a black hole... seems complete fantasy.

  • lee twinny
    lee twinny   1 months ago

    Could you not get a push orstore the energy of a explosion of end if stars

  • marcus upshaw
    marcus upshaw   1 months ago

    This guy must be a scientist. He’s real smart

  • terry leacock
    terry leacock   1 months ago

    In order to move like photon you have to be as a photon.

  • Hassan Falah
    Hassan Falah   1 months ago

    To slow down cant we just fire the beam at a smaller shuttle which would reflect back the beam and not necessarily at a blackhole?

  • MoFam OG
    MoFam OG   1 months ago

    We can't go faster than light because we live by time and space but darkness do not live by time and space 🤷 so darkness is = to light....

  • big bez
    big bez   1 months ago

    August 2021. Black hole found with light emitting from the other side! Einstein correct?

  • Ork Diktator
    Ork Diktator   1 months ago

    I don't know how many Indie publishing Sci-Fi authors are among your subscribers. lol

  • Karen Silver
    Karen Silver   1 months ago

    Great. How do you get as far out as you need to if you want to find a binary black hole?

  • CartsMD
    CartsMD   1 months ago

    Please describe the physics involved in the following scenario: Say you have a very massive space ship, from the front of such ship, lets suppose you built a detachable capsule of sorts that is orders of magnitude lighter than the space ship from which it came. Now lets also suppose we have a "cable" that attaches the two crafts, and for thought sake lets say this "cable" is "Infinitely strong", Now say we park our very large spaceship in such a space around a blackhole and with the capsule detaching from the ship towards the blackhole, Just how close could our capsule get to a black hole and still be able to recover from the blackholes gravity? Could we learn anything from the perspective of being in such a proximity? Could impossible experiments be lent to us in such an environment? Please expound.

  • Quazimoto Scopick
    Quazimoto Scopick   1 months ago

    I think the spacecraft would inevitably be swallowed by the black hole,Getting close enough to slingshot around it sounds like fun but i fail to see its true power source that is syphon available Just saying ,im a crane rigger who is interested in spacecraftLiked the video,fascinating to watch

  • Mark G
    Mark G   1 months ago

    After watching several episodes I feel so smart due to the fact that your explanations are incredibly focused and understandable. Thank you

  • Peter Cawdron
    Peter Cawdron   1 months ago

    Could you convert the incoming halo drive energy into angular momentum? In the same way a hydroelectric dam takes a steady stream of water and runs it through a dynamo to generate electricity, could the incoming halo drive beam spin a dynamo to become a source of energy rather than propulsion? (ie, the propulsion is put into turning the dynamo). Depending on how efficient the bearing was, there could be negligible momentum imparted beyond the spin (and LOTS of electricity for our black hole orbiting civilisation)